Dispatches From The North
Tania Kindersley lives in the North East of Scotland with two amiable lab collie crosses and one very grumpy Gloucester Old Spot pig. She co-wrote Backwards In High Heels: The Impossible Art of Being Female, with Sarah Vine.
The soup won't work.
I am in fairly severe trouble. The courgette soup is not working.
In life, I labour under the entirely unproven belief that almost anything can be cured by the judicious application of soup. It’s not so much the eating of soup, although of course this must help, with all its goodness and nutritional marvellousness; it’s the making of it and the preparing of it. Even the quickest soup can’t be too rushed; there must be chopping and contemplation. It’s a back to first principles thing, which may soothe the unquiet mind.
It doesn’t have to be chicken soup either, although that is of course the gold standard. It can be any soup. Just at the moment, I am in a vogue for green soups, probably because my body is craving the iron.
Today I was even more distrait than usual. I am in deadline fever and should be using every single minute wisely. Instead I get distracted and back-tracked and side-tracked; my fiendish sub-conscious sends me round the houses so that I cannot remember what it is I was supposed to be doing. I am currently working with no fewer than ten documents open at once, switching from one to the other like a gadfly. I also can’t remember anything: last night, I had to get in the car and drive up to the horse at ten o’clock at night because I had a sudden, streaming fear that I had not closed the gate properly. The mare is such an escape artist (can untie her own and anyone else’s rope) that if the bolt is not completely shot she will do a Steve McQueen at the drop of a hat. I kept trying to think back to a couple of hours before, but I had absolutely no memory of the physical act of bolting. When I arrived, in flat panic, she was dozing quietly in her field, behind a firmly shut gate. I felt most foolish, gave her a couple of carrots, tried not to look insane, and hoped she would not ask too many questions.
So, the soup. That would calm me down, I thought. That would bring me back to sanity. Lots of lovely chilli and basil and watercress and finest olive oil and dash of lemon juice for zing and of course the courgettes themselves; everything very gently cooked and then liquidised so it was smooth as velvet. Oh, it was good.
I sat down and waited for the effects to be felt, as if I had taken a pill. Five minutes; ten; nothing. My brain still jangled about in my skull; I still felt distracted and fretful. Twenty different voices yelled in my head about the things I must get done in the next five minutes. My eyes felt scratchy and swollen, like two boiled eggs that have been left out in the sun.
Usually I don’t mind a bit of stress; I think it’s quite good for one. It’s galvanising. But when the soup doesn’t work I know I am in treacherous territory. I know I should do yoga or meditation or something, but I read a book about meditation once and it drove me crazy. The horse is a pretty good curative, when she is dopey and relaxed, but when I get this edgy she picks up on it, and does her little prima donna dance. Never go up to your horse in a hurry, all the experts say. Ha, I say, with the hollowest of hollow laughs.
I am thinking I might try Guinness next. Two draft cans to be taken each evening, as required. Full of iron and Vitamin B, happily familiar, the taste of my youth; it was considered such a tonic in our house that my father did not think of it as alcohol at all, but medicine. So, it’s back to the black stuff. If that does not work, then I am out of ideas.
Daily tip from the lady archive
“A GRACEFUL walk is a great asset, for sometimes it can create an illusion of beauty where little exists.”The Lady. Pleasant Exercises for Grace. 2nd April 1931